Icing on cake for Murray

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:39 AM ET

In this "new" NHL, some of the changes have been aimed at wrestling control of the game from the coaches and putting it back in the skilled hands of the players.

But score one last night for Senators coach Bryan Murray.

Murray got a couple of key matchups last night leading to a pair of goals in the Senators' 4-2 win over the defending Stanley Cup-champion Tampa Bay Lightning at the Corel Centre in front of a crowd of 18,604.

Murray got his high-flying top line of Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson on the ice against the Lightning's lesser lights on two critical occasions leading to Ottawa's second and third goals, the latter of which turned out to be the winner.

"You can get your matchups, especially with the new icing rule," said Murray, after taking advantage of that rule -- which prohibits a change of lines by the team icing the puck -- to help the Senators to their second goal.

"It gives you a real opportunity to do things, especially with your top line. There's a lot of times nothing happens, but when it does, it's some pretty positive feedback."

POUNCES ON TIRED UNIT

Early in the second period, the Lightning's unit of Dave Andreychuk, Rob DiMaio and Tim Taylor were on the ice when the Lightning was called for icing. Murray took the opportunity to send out his top unit against the heavy-footed Andreychuk line. Spezza won the draw, Wade Redden got a shot from the point and Alfredsson buried the rebound at 7:44 of the second to double the Senators' lead to 2-0.

It was a mismatch in the Senators' favour.

"That was a matchup they probably didn't want," said Spezza. "They were probably tired. But Bryan is smart that way. He got us out there where we could pounce on them."

The Bolts showed why they're champs, though, battling back to tie the game as the Senators got into penalty trouble again late in the second. Brad Richards, with his sixth of the season at 10:31 of the second, and Vincent Lecavalier, with his ninth at 4:12 of the third, tied it.

SIMILAR SCENARIO

But Murray got the matchup he wanted again a couple of minutes later. It was a similar scenario, an offensive zone faceoff, with Andreychuk, Evgeni Artyukhin and Nick Tarnasky on the ice for the Lightning. Redden's point shot this time beat Lightning goaltender John Grahame with assists going to Alfredsson and Spezza at 6:32 of the third.

"That's why we work on faceoffs every game day," said Spezza. "We've been really working on them. I think everybody is over 50% now."

Mike Fisher scored his second of the season just over two minutes later when Grahame cleared the puck right onto his stick to insure Ottawa's 10th win of the season, the first team in the Eastern Conference to get there.

After their last one-sided win (8-0 over the Maple Leafs last Saturday), the Senators had come out flat the next night at home against the Flyers in what turned out to be a 5-3 loss.

This time the Senators were coming home from a 10-4 rout of the Sabres in Buffalo.

Their start was much better this time around. Martin Havlat, one of three Senators to score four goals against the Sabres, put the Senators ahead at 7:13 of the first off a feed from Peter Schaefer.

Schaefer had been chastised in the morning by Murray for not shooting enough and he passed up a prime shot from the slot to pass back to Havlat near the bottom of the right-wing circle. Havlat roofed one from there for his sixth of the season.

The scorers got the job done last night for the Senators.

So did the coach.


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